Food producers in Limerick have welcomed the City and County Council’s latest food initiative that aims to improve Limerick’s food sector.
The proposal hopes to create a “holistic approach covering all food stakeholder groups” in the Limerick area.
Limerick Councillor Emmet O’Brien said the proposal is a great opportunity to unite local producers and to create a distinctive food brand for the Limerick area.
“We are smack down in the middle of the best agricultural land in south Limerick. This is a massive opportunity for us to come together on this.”
“Up until the 1980s, Limerick ham was considered to be the best. It was served in the top five star hotels in the United Kingdom and we let that slip. I’m talking about real and proper ham that could be traced back to Limerick farms, there needs to be a collection of interested partners between the restaurateurs and the producers to buy into the brand,” said Cllr O’ Brien, who is an Independent councillor in the Adare-Rathkeale area.
Cllr O’Brien believes the primary producers will profit from the new strategy by getting a better price for their product.
“The restaurateurs and secondary producers would also benefit from promoting Limerick as a premiere food destination,” the Cllr added.
Adare Farm owner Tommy Relihan, who specializes in producing 100% natural dairy products along with raising their own welfare friendly beef and pork, is also open to the proposal and hopes for an increased focus on food fairs and festivals in the area.
“If you compare Limerick to other areas, there isn’t a large number of producers. We need to showcase what we have through joint promotions and local food festivals,” he said.
Curraghchase Meats owner Caroline Rigney is also hopeful about the proposed initiative. Rigney rears free range rare breed pigs and has many awards under her belt. She said she is interested in getting Limerick “out there” and welcomes the idea of expanding her own product.
Beef producer and Cllr O’Brien wants Limerick producers to step up and start rivalling its neighbours.
“We produce the best beef and the best milk but we produce it on a basis of a conveyer belt system and it’s given to Kerry and it’s given to ABP, we have high standards but we don’t have a distinctive Limerick brand,” said O’Brien.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for us,” he said.